Maulana Maududi: A Brief Biography
Maulana Maududi was born on 25 September 1903 in Aurangabad, Deccan and was the youngest of 5 children of Syed Ahmed Hassan. Maulana claimed a proud heritage: they were descended from one of the prominent branches of Chishti Sufi order and once wrote about his lineage “I belong to one such family that has 1300 years history of guiding, asceticism and Sufism." Maulana’s lineage was directly traced to Khawaja Qutbuddin Maudud, Sheikh ul Shuyukh of all Chishti orders of India. Maulana’s father Syed Ahmed Hassan, a well reputed notable of the city, a man of learning and piety had great influence on him. Maulana said about his father “a year after I was born my father washed his hands of the world and for three years lived liked an ascetic, later on although he had returned to the world, it was not to his old world which he turned but to purely religious one. The result of this revolution in his life was that I opened my eyes and gained my senses, I found myself in a religious setting. My father and mother lives had a distant coloring, their example and upbringing imprinted my heart and mind with religious fervor”. On another occasion Maulana proudly said “my father left me no worldly fortunes but it was his upbringing based on moral values that I am fortunate enough to have”. Maulana‘s mother Ruqaya Begum, who was of Turkish origin, carried a mark of nobility. They had migrated to India during Aurangzaib’s rule. Maulana was very proud of his glorious tradition and the aristocratic heritage of his maternal family.
Ahmed Hassan was an educated man himself so therefore took great interest in the education of his children. Maulana was home schooled, his first teacher was his father. His father always wanted him to become a religious scholar. Maulana was taught Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Mantiq (logic), Figh, and Hadith initially at his home. Ethics and proper behavior in the education was emphasized by his father. Every night his father used to tell his children stories of great men and glorious history of Islam. Maulana wrote about these bed time stories “these interesting stories filled my mind with a deep feeling for religion”. Special attention was paid to accent and speech of Ahmed’s children. Maulana said that “I lived in Deccan for twenty years without adopting a single local pronunciation and continued to speak in pure Urdu. If my father heard any of us utter a wrong word or pronounce a word incorrectly, he would make us stop and would correct us”.
Maulana was enrolled in 1914 at the age of 11 in Madrassah Foqqaniyya, Aurangabad in class 8th. He did well in all exams except mathematics but the Principle of that Madrassah allowed him in class of “Moulvi” impressed by his intelligence. During this time Maulana translated "al Mirah al Jadidah" (Modern Women) in to Urdu. He recollected about his achievement “during this period my brother encouraged me to translate Qasim Amin “Modern Women“ from Arabic to Urdu. God knows where the pages of that translation are today, but I remember that the lucidity of that translation made my father happy. This was my first work”.
In 1914 Maulana passed his “Moulvi” exam. In 1915 went to Hyderabad to take admission in Maulana Hameedudin Farahi's Dar ul uloom but his stay there was just for six months because of his father’s illness. He left Hyderabad for Bhopal to look after his father and the family’s worsening financial situation. These circumstances compelled Maulana to join profession of journalism at the age of just 15. He joined Medina newspaper first but soon after its closure, Maulana moved to Delhi and served in editorial staff of two newspapers associated with Jamiat ulama Hind, Muslim and Al Jamia. It was Al Jamia of which he became editor later. Working with these journals provided opportunity for Maulana to spend time in the company of the towering Islamic personalities of Jamiat ulama Hind; it was their influence that Maulana decided to resume his studies in 1921. It was in Arabic, Tasfir, Hadith, Fiqh, Mantiq and Philosophy that he sought to gain competence. Maulana studied Arabic and the dars nizami with eminent religious scholar, Maulana Abdussalam Niyazi.
Many don’t know that during this time, he wrote an article entitled “Barq ya Khruba” (Electricity or electricity), barq is modern word for electricity whereas kharuba is used for electricity in older sources. In this article he explicates scientific phenomena with the west by couching it in terms that would give it cultural legitimacy.
While pursuing a career in journalism in Delhi, Maulana was actively involved in politics. He participated in Khalifat movement for preservation of Ottoman Empire. He helped in organizing the Khilafat movement in Jabalpur where he stayed for a brief time. He wrote articles against British rule in different journals, Taj was famous weekly newspaper of Khilafat movement, Maulana was later editor of that newspaper.
In 1920 Maulana joined the Hijrat movement, started on the idea that India is no longer part of Darul islam and therefore all Indian Muslims should emigrate to Afghanistan but soon parted ways with Hijrat movement over disagreement with its leadership.
In 1929, at the age of 26, Maulana published his first scholarly book “Al Jihad Fil Islam“. In this book he analyses the teachings of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism about war. He proved that Islam is the only religion that advocates Jihad only in time of self defense against aggressor and as part of struggle for justice. Allama Iqbal when read this book, termed it one of the best book on the topic of Jihad. He recommended every learned man to read it if they wanted to know about Islamic teachings of Jihad. Professor Ghulam Azam of Bangladesh once asked Maulana “where do you get the concept of Islam that you preach?”. Maulana replied “from Al Jihad Fil Islam.” Surprised by his reply Professor asked again: “But you have written it?” Maulana replied “I did research for writing this book. I extensively read Quran, Sunnah, past and contemporary literature available of Islamic scholars. From this study I cleared the concept of Islam”.
In 1932 on behest of Manzir Ahsin gilani, Maulana wrote “Rislaya Deeniyat”, translated into many languages and became a text book in numerous colleges of India at that time. It is another major work of Maulana explaining nature, meaning and significance of Islam. He wrote it in just 15 days.
Many don’t know that Maulana wrote poetry for a brief period under the pen name “Talib” (seeker). He wrote two poems in 1932 but they were never printed till his death. His few poems were translated to English.
You have a hidden fire within you
So you don’t need the candle.
O,the burning desire of the moth become a radiant flame yourself.
In 1933 Maulana started monthly journal “Tarjuman ul Quran,”. In the beginning he wrote most of the articles and did all its editing by himself. One writer rightly said “Tarjuman gave a place to air, test, refine and rationalize his ideas and his vision and despite its modest subscriptions list, cast him as a leader of the Muslim community of India”. Tarjuman played a key role in making of Jamaat Islami.
In 1933 Allama Iqbal was planning to establish a model Darul ul Islam that will lay foundations for new world view of Islam in India. Iqbal searched for a competent man well versed not only in religious studies but also in worldly knowledge, for that he also wrote letter to the Director of Al Azhar University, Cairo asking him to send such Alim for this task but he answered they don’t have such a man. It was Maulana that Iqbal then selected for this important mission, Darul Islam was established in Pathankot. Migrating from cosmopolitan city of Hyderabad to Phatankot was not an easy decision. He was offered a job in the “Uthmaniyah University” but he opted for this project, knowing that Darul Islam was an important historic experiment, significant for Indian Muslim community. Maulana termed Pathankot the “nerve center” of the Muslims revival in India, Darul Islam was to provide the Muslim community of India its leaders and serve as the foundation for a genuine religious movement. He shared his vision for Darul Islam and sought their opinion from religious leadership of that time; Maulana also invited them to join him in this project. Many religious scholars visited and engaged in this project with him. Muhammad Asad, a famous Islamic western scholar was among them.
Maulana then began preparing literature about his views, his project and to encourage people to join the Dar ul Islam. These publications were regularly sent to all Muslim educational institutes of India. Thus his views were soon begun to be known in the intellectual circles of the Indian Muslims.
It was in Pathankot where Maulana delivered his famous Friday’s sermons “Khutbaat” printed and translated later in many languages.
This project was transferred to Lahore later. There in Lahore, Maulana was asked to be a part of Islamic theology department of Islamia College. He joined it for 14 months till 1940 voluntarily without any pay.
Maulana now began to work actively to establish a Muslim political organization. He wrote and traveled extensively for this purpose, met with Muslim intellectuals and delivered lectures in Muslim educational institutions. It was in August 1941 that Jamaat Islami was finally established.
Even after formation of Jamaat Islami, with all the organizational and later political responsibilities, Mawlana continued his intellectual career and wrote a number of books. In 1942 he wrote his magnum opus, “exegesis of the Holy Quran”, it took 30 years to complete and was printed in 1972. Mawlana Tafseer was written in a simple language, avoiding traditional terminologies and style. He reduced intellectual discussion to a level where they could be understood by a greater number of people. He also wrote two volumes of Seerat un Nabi covering the Meccan period. His death prevented his writing of a planned additional two volumes covering Medina’s life of Prophet Muhammad
It was on 22 September 1979 that Maulana Maududi passed away. His funeral was led by famous Egyptian Islamic scholar Yusuf Qarzawi in Lahore. His ideas never left us, preserved both in his writings and in countless people that he influenced. His writings are still guiding people in today’s world through the confusions of secular modernity, he was indeed Mujaddid of our time.
Shahkar Aziz MS scholar Islamic studies. Former President Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba KP. Director International School of Cordoba, Hayatabad, Peshawar